Virtual workshop aims to help Northern Indigenous artists safeguard their work

Tonight’s event important given amount of cultural appropriation that’s occurring, says facilitator Larissa Desrosiers

Iqaluit-based Inuk jeweler Mathew Nuqingaq is the featured speaker at the Wednesday night workshop. (Photo by Lisa Gregoire)

By Meral Jamal

Organizers of a one-time virtual workshop to be held tonight hope the event will help Indigenous artists from the North navigate their rights and safeguard their work.

The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Eastern time and is being hosted by Indigenous Protocol a platform that helps Indigenous artists living in or connected to Nunavut or the Northwest Territories protect their work.

It also educates non-Indigenous individuals and organizations about respectful engagement and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples.

The Protection and Considerations for Northern Indigenous Artists workshop will cover cultural appropriation, safeguarding cultural knowledge, intellectual property and Indigenous artists’ rights and responsibilities when using traditional and contemporary imagery.

One of Iqaluit artist Mathew Nuqingaq’s contemporary takes on eyewear traditionally worn by Inuit to prevent snowblindness. This piece is made from muskox horn and baleen. (Image courtesy of Feheley Fine Arts)

There will also be information on how artists can protect their artwork using available tools and legal resources.  Iqaluit-based Inuk jeweller Mathew Nuqingaq is the workshop’s featured speaker.

“I’ve seen other non-Indigenous artists flat-out make the same product as Indigenous artists and profit off of that,” said Larissa Desrosiers, an Ojibwe queer musician and beadworker from Couchiching First Nation in Treaty #3 who will facilitate the workshop.

“Or companies will take issues that we advocate for, like Every Child Matters, and use those images and those ideas to profit … but they’re profiting off of something that started with the grassroots community.”

Desrosiers said the workshop is especially important given increasing cultural appropriation by non-Indigenous artists and organizations online.

As a beadworker herself, Desrosiers said she wants non-Indigenous people to be respectful of Indigenous art and artists.

She said the workshop is a space for Indigenous artists from the North to learn from each other, identify how they can protect their work, and ensure their “economic rights are respected, and traditional and cultural expressions are respected.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the Wednesday night workshop can register via the Indigenous Protocols website.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Cultural appropriation on

    Everything is cultural appropriation in one way or another. Just look at country music and hip-hop’s significance in the world now, Just look at different cultures borrowing recipes from other cultures to redefine their cuisine, look at how to Mohawk was a popular hair style in the 90’s, the list goes on.

  2. Posted by Sylvia Korteling on

    Please add me to your list when sending out information on Inuit artists and northern communities.

  3. Posted by 867 on

    Non-Japanese selling sushi on Facebook is cultural appropriation, but it seems to be all the rage up here.

  4. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    Generally I think the topic of cultural appropriation is as artificial as are the imagined cultures used to erect silos around human creations.

    Yet, there are still times when I might agree, specifically with the imitation of certain art styles for profit and when no credit is given. Yet even this is tricky ground.

    For the most part human progress is predicated on borrowing of creative and intellectual ideas and technologies. To survive in the arctic Inuit too have borrowed heavily from other cultures, including Europeans and other indigenous groups (the Tuniit, especially).

    According to the WTO intellectual property rights around ‘ideas’ have a time limit of about 50 years. So, why shouldn’t a non-Japanese person be allowed to make sushi? Why shouldn’t a Hungarian be able to open a pizza shop? Why shouldn’t a European be allowed to make qayaks? Why shouldn’t an Inuk be allowed to sell their butter chicken?

  5. Posted by Glass Beads Are Cultural Appropriation on

    Pray tell, where did Inuit get beads to do their beadwork? Where’s the multi colored glass bead factory in Nunavut or Greenland?

    “Safeguarding Cultural knowledge” is just fancy speak for Gatekeeping culture.


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